Approximately 3,000 state and local agencies are responsible for inspecting more than one million food establishments in the United States, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Health inspectors investigate a company’s food handling, preparation and storage procedures to ensure that food is fresh and the environment in which it is prepared is sanitary. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that approximately 48 million Americans get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die of foodborne illness each year.
On average, state health departments conduct health inspections two to four times per year.
There are three types of inspections:
1. Routine inspections are usually unexpected. The inspector examines of all aspects of your restaurant to ensure compliance with state health codes.
2. A complaint inspection happens after customers observe unsafe food practices or complain they got sick as a result of dining at an establishment.
3. A follow-up inspection occurs after a restaurant was issued a violation and was given a certain amount of time to correct the violation.
Mandated by law, health inspections cannot be avoided. Take a proactive approach and you’ll always be prepared for an unexpected inspection. While consistent readiness may not always be feasible, it’s an important goal to work towards.
Having preventative measures in place will help you during a health inspector’s visit. Here are some ways to stay on top of inspections:
· Research your local and state laws regarding health inspections. Laws vary from state to state. Know what laws are applicable to your establishment.
· Obtain a copy of the food service inspection checklist for your state and regularly conduct your own health inspections to ensure your business is ready for the day when the real inspector shows up.
· Consult the FDA website for a current copy of the Food Code, which offers suggestions and best practices for food safety and health inspections. Many state laws have been modeled after this document.
· Join your state’s restaurant association to stay on top of state regulations regarding food safety, foodborne illness and health inspections.
· Require employees to take food safety courses and make safe food handling and preparation a priority in your company’s culture. Display food safety posters and other relevant safety information in the kitchen, at hand washing stations and in the employee break room so information is readily available to all employees.
For more information about health inspections, managing your risks and obtaining insurance for your business, please visit http://www.hayscompanies.com/contact-us/ to get in touch with your local consultant.